Legally and politically important
Cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Foreign Affairs Committee
Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1425 of 4 August 2017 on a European Union stabilisation action in Mopti and Segou
Article 28(1) TEU; unanimity
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
32.1Since 2012, the Malian Government has been engaged in combat with separatist rebels and militant Islamist armed groups, which have pushed the national army out of the country’s north. Following an initial French military intervention in January 2013, the EU currently maintains both a military training mission and a civilian capacity-building mission in the country under the auspices of the Common Security & Defence Policy (CSDP). It is also providing Mali with €615 million (£544 million) in development aid from the European Development Fund over the 2014–2020 period.
32.2In February 2017, the Malian Government adopted a new strategy to provide stability to the central regions of the country. Following a request for the EU to support its implementation, the European External Action Service (EEAS) proposed a “Stabilisation Action” to support a return civil administration to the central region. This proposal was endorsed unanimously by the Council on 4 August 2017.
32.3The “Action” consists of a team of ten experts, who will be attached to the EU Delegation in Mali for 12 months. They will advise the central Government in Bamako (as well as the governors of the central cities of Mopti and Segou) on governance-related issues and facilitate dialogue between the authorities and local populations, especially in relation to the representation and participation of women in the process of restoring civil administration. The mission’s total budget is €3.25 million (£3 million) for the period from September 2017 to October 2018.
32.4The Minister for Europe (Sir Alan Duncan) submitted an Explanatory Memorandum on the new mission on 14 August. Although supportive of the mission, which he described as “consistent with HMG’s Sahel Strategy” in view of the increasing instability in Mali, the Minister emphasised that the UK and Germany had “made clear that this mission must assist the Malian authorities rather than take over control”. He also noted that the deployment, under Article 28 TEU, is the first “Stabilisation Action” under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). In an accompanying letter, the Minister explains that the Government overrode scrutiny in the proposal as the Committee was not yet in place following the elections.
32.5We have taken note of the Government’s support for this new “Stabilisation Action”, which we consider to be appropriate given the deterioration in Mali’s security situation and the risk of a further erosion of governmental authority in the country’s central regions, with concomitant risk of spill-over of lawlessness in the wider Sahel region. As this is a new type of mission under Article 28 TEU, we would welcome clarification from the Minister with the respect to the difference between “stabilisation actions” and other CSDP missions.
32.6With respect to the situation in Mali specifically, given that the EU now maintains three separate CSDP missions in the country, we are concerned about the risk of a fragmented approach to the EU’s on-the-ground support (especially as the missions’ respective mandates are not aligned in terms of duration). In light of this, we ask the Minister to keep us informed of any further developments in relations to the EU’s interventions in Mali, and in particular whether the three missions may be merged into a single CSDP operation under the Regional Implementation Plan for the Sahel being prepared by the EEAS.
32.7We have also taken note of the Government’s position paper on post-Brexit cooperation with the EU on foreign and development policy, which foresees a partnership of an “unprecedented depth and degree of engagement”, including the possibility of continued UK participation in Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) activities, including mandate development, detailed operational planning, and contributions of personnel and equipment. However, the paper lacks any assessment of the necessary institutional and legal framework to make this a reality. We ask the Minister, as we have done elsewhere, to clarify how the Government is proposing to remain closely involved in current and future CSDP activities (including potentially EUCAP Sahel Mali, EUTM Mali and the Stabilisation Action) once it is no longer represented in the Foreign Affairs Council and the Political & Security Committee.
32.8Linked to the EU’s civilian and military missions in support of Mali is its broader package of support, including development aid under the European Development Funds (EDF) projected to amount to €615 million between 2014 and 2020. Although the UK contributes 15% of the EDF’s funding, we are not able to confidently assess the implications of Brexit for the level of EU development assistance to Mali. The Government’s position paper, while proposing “collaboration and alignment on development policy and programming” does not commit to maintaining the UK’s contributions to the EDF past “Brexit day”. If it does not, the resulting budgetary shortfall would likely lead to a reduction in EU spending in the country, and it is unclear if the Government is considering how any adverse impact on Mali—and other countries which would be similarly affected—could be avoided. We are awaiting clarification on this point from the Department for International Development.
32.9In view of these Brexit considerations, and given the intensification of EU assistance to Mali more broadly through the EU’s first-ever “Stabilisation Action” under Article 28 TEU, we consider this document politically and legally important. Accordingly, we draw it to the attention of the House and the Foreign Affairs Committee. We also accept that the Government’s override of scrutiny in approving this operation was appropriate in this case, to enable the Decision to be adopted during the summer recess.
Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1425 of 4 August 2017 on a European Union stabilisation action in Mopti and Segou: (38953),—.
32.10The Sahel region of central Africa—encompassing Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger—faces numerous causes of instability including extreme poverty, climate change, food shortages, violent conflict and poor governance. In 2011, the European External Action Service (EEAS) formulated a dedicated Sahel Strategy setting its priorities for engagement with and activities in the region, including actions to support sustainable development, promote good governance and ensure political stability.
32.11A year after the Strategy was adopted, the Malian military removed the civilian government from power. Subsequently, a coalition of separatist rebels and militant Islamist armed groups pushed the national army out of the country’s northern region. The prospect that the entire country might fall to the rebels provoked an urgent French military intervention in January 2013, and on 18 February that year the EU—at the request of the Malian authorities—launched a military training mission for Malian armed forces (EUTM Mali), which currently is mandated to operate until May 2018.
32.12In April 2014, in view of the continued instability in Mali, the Foreign Affairs Council decided to establish a further civilian mission to support its police forces to operate effectively but observant of human rights and the rule of law (EUCAP Sahel Mali). The mission was formally launched on 15 January 2015, with a two-year mandate (subsequently extended until January 2019). That same year, the EEAS published a five-year Regional Action Plan (RAP) to aid the implementation of the Sahel Strategy, which listed as one of its priorities the need for further action to address the “precarious situation” in Mali.
32.13In addition to the on-the-ground support offered by the CSDP Missions and the EU delegation in Bamako, the EU also provides Mali with financial support to promote sustainable development. The country is set to receive €615 million (£563 million) in investment from the European Development Funds over the 2014–2020 period.
32.14In October 2016, the Minister for Europe (Sir Alan Duncan) told the Committee that the European External Action Service (EEAS) review of the EUCAP Sahel Mali mission had found that “much more still needs to be done, especially in a country where peace is fragile, and the terrorist threat is increasing”. More concretely, the EEAS had concluded that Mali’s security situation had deteriorated, “leaving the North as an ungoverned space and destabilising dangerously the centre with direct spill-over effects on the neighbouring countries (Burkina Faso and Niger), the whole Sahel region and beyond”.
32.15In view of the deteriorating situation, in June 2017 the Foreign Affairs Council approved the establishment of a Regional Coordination Cell (RCC) within EUCAP Sahel Mali. Its purpose is to provide training to trainees from the other Sahel countries with no CSDP Missions (Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania) and make preparations for the provision of more training in the regions of Mali, away from the central training centre in the capital Bamako. The RCC’s staff will build “situational awareness of the countries’ security and defence needs and facilitate the organisation of training courses by the CSDP Missions in the Sahel”. The European External Action Service (EEAS) has also begun work on a Regional Implementation Plan for the future development of the EU’s military and civilian presence in the Sahel.
32.16In February 2017, the Malian Government adopted its “Plan de Sécurisation Intégrée des Régions du Centre” (PSIRC) to provide stability to the central regions of the country (primarily around the cities of Mopti and Segou), and in June 2017 it invited the EU to support its implementation.
32.17In response, the EEAS proposed a “Stabilisation Action” to support the Malian authorities’ plan to return civil administration to the central Mopti region. This proposal was endorsed unanimously by the Council on 4 August 2017. The “Action” consists of a team of ten experts, who will be attached to the EU Delegation for 12 months, advising the central Government in Bamako, as well as the Governors of the cities of Mopti and Segou. Its total cost is €3.25m for a 12 month period, and its specific tasks are to:
32.18The Minister for Europe (Sir Alan Duncan) submitted an Explanatory Memorandum on the new CFSP action on 14 August. From this, it is clear that the Government supported the deployment, calling it “consistent with the HMG Sahel Strategy’s objectives on improving security and stability in Mali and the wider Sahel”. As a result, he says, the Government “judge that this action is complementary to our objectives in the Sahel”. He added, however, that the UK and Germany “made clear that this mission must assist the Malian authorities rather than take over control”.
32.19The mission will be an EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) action under Article 28 of the Treaty. The Minister notes that it marks the first time a “Stabilisation Action” has been deployed. The EEAS recommended use of this instrument as a “quick and flexible option, that will help address the security and humanitarian situation in the short term”, with a view to transitioning to another instrument (such as a CSDP mission, like EUTM Mali and EUCAP Sahel Mali) at the end of the mandate. He added that “Member States were content to explore this new instrument”. There will be a full implementation report by the end of the mission mandate, which will be considered by the Council, including recommendations on future actions by the EU.
32.20The Minister did not assess the implications of Brexit for the UK’s participation in the Stabilisation Action or the EU’s other CSDP missions in the Sahel. However, in September 2017, the Government published a “future partnership paper” on EU-UK foreign policy cooperation post-Brexit, in which it calls for an “unprecedented” partnership in this area. This could involve, inter alia, UK participation in “mandate development and detailed operational planning” of CSDP activities, as well as contributions of “personnel, expertise, assets, or use of established UK national command and control facilities”. The paper does not explore what institutional mechanisms might be necessary to facilitate such a close level of cooperation, especially at the planning stage of CSDP operations and missions, considering the UK will no longer be represented on the EU bodies that oversee the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy after it withdraws from the Union.
399 EUTM Mali and EUCAP Sahel Mali, respectively. See “Background” below for more information.
400 €1 = £0.91973 or £1 = €1.08728 as at 1 September 2017.
401 See .
402 The team will be composed of three dedicated members of staff funded by the EU from the mission budget, and seven members of staff seconded by Member States or the EU. The Head of Mission will be the EU’s Head of Delegation in Mali.
403 See UN Security Council .
404 submitted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (14 August 2017).
405 from Sir Alan Duncan to the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee (14 August 2017).
406 EUTM Mali has a mandate ; EUCAP Sahel Mali ; and the new Stabilisation Action runs .
407 The UK’s contributions to the EDFs are separate from its payments into the general EU budget, and are made under a distinct Treaty ratified by Parliament in 2014. See our predecessors’ .
408 See our Report of [date] on the European Fund for Sustainable Development.
409 European External Action Service, ““. The Strategy was not deposited for scrutiny.
410 EUTM Mali aims to support the training and reorganisation of the Malian Armed Forces and to help improve its military capacity, in order to allow, under civilian authority, the restoration of the country’s territorial integrity. Its mandate has been extended twice from its original deadline in May 2014 (first to May 2016 and then to May 2018).
411 EUCAP SAHEL Mali delivers strategic advice and training for the internal security forces in Mali with a view to improving their operational efficacy, reinforcing independent oversight and management, and facilitating their redeployment to the northern region of the country.
412 See for more information our predecessors’ .
413 €1 = £0.91973 or £1 = €1.08728 as at 1 September 2017.
414 See ““ (March 2015).
415 from Sir Alan Duncan, Minister for Europe (11 October 2016).
416 See .
417 The fifth country traditionally included in the Sahel Region, Niger, has an EU civilian capability-building mission of its own (EUCAP Sahel Niger). See our predecessors’ for more information.
419 See .
420 See article 3 of the Council Decision.
421 submitted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (14 August 2017).
422 DExEU, ““ (12 September 2017).
1 December 2017